Friday morning's opening session began with a powerful music video that told the story of a thirteen-year-old girl from the Philippines named Constance. The video was based on a true story and told how Constance was sold by her father into sex slavery for $9. The man who bought her used her as a star on his website. I didn't catch all the lyrics, but the video sent a powerful message about the pervasive effects of sex trafficking - a man paying the subscription fee for a porn site in his suburban home may be propagating the sale and purchase of human beings for sex.
Following the video was a short panel discussion with three women who are on the front lines of the war against the sex trade. Jeannie Mai is a television host who recently spent two weeks ministering in the red light district of Bangkok, Thailand. She was joined by Naomi Zacharias (daughter of Ravi Zacharias) of Wellspring International and Bethany Hoang from International Justice Mission.
Bethany presented some staggering information. Sex trafficking currently enslaves 27 million people, more than were affected by the trans-Atlantic enslavement of Africans through the 19th century. That makes human trafficking the third largest black market today, after guns and drugs. In light of these overwhelming numbers, Bethany insisted that we must lead with hope. We have to believe that "the church truly is the answer to this problem, that the body of Christ can bring down this whole operation."
So what can we do? Jeannie encouraged us to pray. "Passionately pray and God begins to open doors to opportunities you didn't know existed in your area." Bethany reinforced the message that small efforts can make a huge difference. She told the story of a church of about 80 members ...